tv The Chris Matthews Show NBC June 17, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT
>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come. chris: the hawks cheering him on, president obama said this week he'll back the syrian rebels. how far, it's not clear. on the homefront, he defends the middle against charges from left and right that he's overreached on surveillance. is this the look of the second term? officer in charge. the day a president takes office he accepts the full-time duty to protect us. he learns what's out there. and the weapons he's got to keep us safe. is it any surprise that president barack obama became more hard-nosed, defending this country with whatever he's got? and finally, the new hillary. no longer will she sell herself as the former first lady who
was close to the action. that was last time. this time, she's running as an american who for four years buttressed this country around the globe. it's her record in the world she'll offer, not her pafment as first lady or even as new york senator. hi, i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. and with us today, nbc's chuck todd. the bbc's katty kay. nbc's kelly o'donnell. and "the washington post's" david ignatius. first up, the president's decision to supply some weapons to syrian rebels. taken together with the breadth of our national security data collection showed how much a commander in chief must meld his views to the realities he confronts in office. on syria, the president decided this country could not avoid involvement when chemical weapons had been used. and on the data sweep, obama's past strong statements about privacy have had to bend with the realities of the threats against the country as he has seen them. let's start with syria. david, i guess the big question is why are we now going in apparently with some kind of military support to the rebels in syria?
>> syria is the problem from hell as one analyst has described it. the reason that we're finally two years into this war deciding to provide military aid is basically what the president said. when you have clear evidence that chemical weapons have been used against a civilian population, when missiles are being fired into civilian population centers, when you have 93,000 people dead, it's -- i think almost impossible for an american president to stand on the sidelines and watch that. so obama is going into syria. he's got to explain to the country where he wants to go. he's decided to back a moderate syrian rebel general who i've talked to on the phone and a very sensible guy. does he have military power now to beat assad? no. he doesn't. so somehow the u.s. is going to help him build a real opposition army. get some real command and control. and begin to make some headway in this fight. and also push back the extremists who have been doing the bulk of the fighting so
far. chris: and the question of sovereignty and american right. who gives us the responsibility and the right to be doing this kind of thing in the world? the american people want us doing this? >> the american people don't want us doing it. that's 100% clear. 75% clear. only one in four americans are believed that there should be a u.s. role engagement. but we're the lone superpower. we're -- when there's a -- if there is a humanitarian crisis but it's a humanitarian crisis and security concern. there's a lot of reasons to be involved in syria. it's been surprising how inarticulate the administration has been in trying to make this case. because you can't -- you're going to continue to have domestic political problems on this issue if you don't sit there and make the case. and so what's been surprising in all this is how little -- the president didn't want to have to do this. he was hoping assad would go down on his own. it didn't. hezbollah has gotten involved and is basically -- all of a sudden tipped the scales to -- assad could actually win.
that is -- that's -- that -- chris: does everybody agree with that here? >> a dynamic change -- >> the fact that we're even having the conversation that assad might win is very different from the conversation we were certainly having a month ago. and i think that is part of what has fueled the administration's decision to get involved now. is there is a sense of urgency. chris: put yourself in vladimir putin's seat this weekend. he's observing the fact from his hawks the united states is getting involved in arming the rebels. trying to topple your client state. your long-time cold war ally. syria. is he going to step back and say let it fall? >> i think if i'm in the kremlin right now, i'm probably thinking thank god i didn't junk assad earlier. because now there's a prospect at least that assad stays and -- chris: won't he now -- putin, isn't he possibly going to react to obama and say you're going in, i'm going to give them those air defense systems that i've been holding back? >> then it looks like 1970 all over again, the cold war is back and we're backing one side and they're backing the other, a reverse afghanistan?
chris: that's what i fear. >> but what the americans are giving is very small. compared to what the rebels say they actually need. and this -- whether this is actually -- this is a toe in the water. and that's -- >> it's what the americans have to do because they set up a red line. but it's no more than that. >> if the president does that and it's ineffective that creates yet another problem. and i think one of the biggest changes that brings even some democrats and republicans together is this idea of proof of chemical weapons. because as much as we have heard horror stories about what can happen with that, proof of that sets up an uncertainty that people are not willing to tolerate of could those weapons be used in a way that goes beyond assad in the wrong hand? and that creates that sort of fear that is making people say, they must act. chris: let's step back. the question i have is what's our goal? david. what do we want to see happen six months from now, six years from now, in that is cuss? -- in damascus? >> we want to see a stable transition to a new syrian government. let me focus on what i think is
the unstated but essential part of what we're doing. the biggest threat long term in syria is not assad. i think he really is over months or years finished. it's the rise of extremists al qaeda fighters who have been leading the fight against assad. and unless we do something, those will be the dominant forces in the field. that's what vladimir putin should worry about. he should worry about al qaeda having a foothold on the mediterranean at the gates of europe ready to launch operations. and the best thing you can say about, well, we're doing and helping the moderate general, is that he can push al qaeda back. in fact, on thursday, he -- his fighters fought against al qaeda in a town called deron i'm told in southern syria. that's a sign of what i think is really important and what this policy is. chris: a former general in the syrian army. >> a man who was a general in the syrian army. a professor of electrical engineering. he's very well spoken. german educated. and he's trying to become a military leader now. >> i think as -- as part of
what this general has also spoken about is the fact that there is now hezbollah fighters in syria. and they have said we will go into lebanon. and we will chase hezbollah back into lebanon. because of the fact that they are fighting in syria. and i think that is part of what the american objective is. it's not so much what we want. it's what we don't want. and that's a broader sunni-shia split that starts in syria and progresses to iraq and engulf that region. >> this is where the president has a political problem. not domestically, internationally. and maybe it will be a problem that he regrets 20 years down the road. as with bill clinton was really trying to warn him about is going, hey, i can tell you, i've had a regret about rwanda. you're going to regret not dealing with this in a better, clear way. if the objective is a political solution, then why isn't every day john kerry knocking on the door of putin? joe biden. chris: my question to all you, if the president of the united states were on the phone right
now with assad, president assad, what would he ask him to do? and what would he offer in return? and to end this war? >> what he would say is back a political transition. it will be good for your community. it will be good for syria. designate some people from your government who can serve in a transition golvet. but mr. president, you have to be a statesman and step aside. chris: to where? >> well, that's the question. chris: that's my question. >> but it's not beyond a superpower's diplomat to work out -- chris: would we take him? >> we would figure out somewhere -- i hear there's lots of room in guantanamo. chris: would we take him? that's -- you laugh but why shouldn't assad -- >> why wouldn't the russians? >> the russians. chris: would they hold him or keep him a week and give him up? >> go to zimbabwe -- chris: assad is fighting to the death. he doesn't want to end up in a hanging situation like adam hussein or in -- saddam hussein or in a storm -- >> assad has never experienced
jet lag. he didn't understand what it was. one time they were having a meeting at the arab league and they were all sitting there. and king abdulah and talking. and they're talking about jet lag. and assad goes what's jet lag? you want to know why? he's never traveled so far where he's experienced jet lag. this is a guy that lives in a bubble. and i think we forget -- we think it's his father and we've been mistaken. chris: he probably likes the bubble. let's turn to that debate over the data being collected here in america. about americans. this week, the head of the national security agency said we still don't know everything that's being collected and we shouldn't. >> some of these are still going to be classified and should be. because if we tell the terrorists every way that we're going to track them, they will get through. and americans will die. chris: this is where american opinion is really going to matter. how far will this president be able to go in keeping secrets with regard to how we're checking on the enemy? >> one of the things that will maybe affect public opinion is early as monday, general alexander and others are going to present some of the evidence they say shows plots that were
thwarted because of these sorts of programs. that may help to shape how people view this. another part is this sense of even frustration and misunderstanding. the briefings that i have been standing outside watching lawmakers come out and say people don't understand this program. well, that's not always so reassuring to the public. that hey, we know more than you do and you don't understand it. there's also another element with edward snowden, the leaker in this case, where they're now questioning could he have actually been working to try and in some espionage way and not a heroic whistleblower, which is how some want to view him but some of his actions are that he may have been trying to provide secrets to some other countries, china is one of the examples they throw out. so if it's something that people will get beyond, we seem, and to see in the public polling that people will trade some privacy for greater security, but i think there is a critical mass that's coming. at least on capitol hill. where people are saying we needed to know more. we're now learning more. and while there may be some tweaks to these programs, they
think by and large -- chris: knowing what's going on. my question is the president, different from a pundit or any of us, if something goes wrong he has to bear responsibility for not having done something he could have done technologically. >> i think you're right. barack obama comes into office. he's a liberal. he's not a big -- pro-surveillance hawk. and every morning he gets a threat briefing. and he knows that his first job is to protect the american people against what are really scary attacks. for me, the clearest sign that these programs are powerful is the fact that osama bin laden, hid in plain sight for five years for one reason. he went silent. he left no digital footprint. he never talked on a phone. he never sent an internet message. why? because he knew that the u.s. had the capabilities to pick up anything. and that's how he survived. and so you have to assume -- >> and that's how they got him. because of the courier. >> is this a renewed lesson
over the weekend or this past week, they're going to learn it's all going to have to be couriers now? >> this is what drives general alexander the people who run these programs crazy. every terrorist in the world will go to school on our debate about these surveillance programs. and they'll get smarter. these are very powerful programs. and they count on the fact that people are stupid. even when they think they're -- they make mistakes. they -- >> they get that -- >> they forget they talked to somebody three years ago. so that's -- but that's what they're worried about. all around the world, the people who were dangerous to us, will now be -- behave differently. chris: we're going to take a break. this is fassnathe stuff. and -- this is fascinating stuff. and the faces of the fathers of the people who made this show possible. for the last 11 years the fathers of our staff and great crew here in the studio and in our control room every week. and everywhere behind the scenes. a tip of the hat to all those great dads. and their great sons and
daughters who have helped me put an excellent show on the air. happy father's day. and when we come back, hellry clinton plans to run as a person -- hillary clinton plans to run as a person apart from her husband's years as president or even her own years in the senate. why her 2016 plans are so definite from her 2008 efforts and scoops and predictions from the notebooks of these top reporters. >> "the chris matthews show" is reporters. >> "the chris matthews show" is brought to you by charles vo: i've always thought the best part about this country is that we get to create our future. you get to take ownership of the choices you make. the person you become. i've been around long enough to recognize the people who are out there owning it. the ones getting involved and staying engaged. they're not sitting by as their life unfolds.
chris: welcome back. our panelist chuck todd wrote this week that hillary clinton is stepping out from bill clinton's shadow. we saw it when she appeared thursday at bill clinton's global initiative. her message there was about joining that initiative. but it sounded just like a campaign theme that will be based on her four years as secretary of state. >> and i traveled the world
quite extensively the last four years. and one of the lessons i took away is that this model of partnerships and commitments is at the heart of what we need to do to meet the challenges of the 21st century. chris: as incredible as it seems, this is what i thought she ought to do. talk about learning. people really love to learn from people who have learned stuff. >> the point i was trying to make, and we were trying to make is that she unlike five years ago, her political brand is hillary clinton. it's not defined by her husband. that said, to me, what was fascinating about last week and this coming out party was all designed to be the hillary clinton coming out party that the c. and c.g.i. might be for hillary clinton more than it is for bill clinton is who made the news? bill clinton. once again. and this was always one of the -- chris: the shot of obama. >> the shot at obama and syria. and it happened -- that comes out literally steps on the new -- the clinton news that was supposed to be made that day
which is her coming out, this speech. chris: how does she protect the brand with him there? >> this is -- continue to be this challenge for her. which is bill clinton, he didn't mean -- this is not a case where he meant to step on her and meant for this stuff to leak out. all this stuff. he didn't. but it's just a reminder that it's very -- the shadow is still a long shadow. chris: because bill clinton is gratified if she wins on her own like this or does he need her to be his absolution for what he did -- >> her years as secretary of state he had enough respect for the office to try to state back. and now that she's a private citizen again, it's going to be harder and harder for him to not weigh in. and so that buffer of years where she was her own person and he was farther in the background, boy, that's going to be touch. chris: he's not going to play uncle tunus and fade off into somewhere. >> he couldn't. he couldn't -- even if he tried, he couldn't. i thought -- >> what was fascinating this
week with hillary clinton was that she was trying to talk about how she's going to bring the country together. how she could bring the country together. chris: yeah. >> the themes of sort of getting away from the partisanship. and that was barack obama's theme. he's really let it go. but i think that's powerful for her. chris: and also the business -- and business doesn't like obama. we all know that. she's saying partnership with business. very interesting. >> she's paying partnership with everybody. and david's right. that's what she's trying to do is project herself as many women candidates at the moment are doing as somebody who's a consensualist. i can work across aisles because of who i am. and in my being to work like that. but we had a reminder of just how vicious the 2016 campaign will be over benghazi. chris: and she's attacked on benghazi. her reaction was step back, buddy. >> we'll see more of that. >> look, i -- it's interesting. i agree that -- whoever runs in 2016 will be trying to say we have to bring the cent together. it's what bill clinton tried to do in 1992.
george bush's entire 2000 campaign was about. and then only the candidates that basically lose political altitude, george h.w. bush, and try too hard to -- and the polarizers win. >> she's trying to bring chelsea in in a way that chelsea could never be when she was a first daughter. chelsea is a third leg of the stool. and will offset. chris: i have a book coming in october which is going to talk about brick us together. the way it used to be with reagan and tip. tip o'neill, my old boss. we'll come right back and scoops and predictions from the notebo
chris: welcome back. chuck, tell me something i don't know. >> barack obama's favorite world leader the one you love -- people like to talk about f.d.r. and churchill. the closest thing for obama as far as his view is obama and merkel. now like the gray hairs of the world western powers. they're getting together this week. at the g-8. obama's favorite world leader. angela merkel. chris: katty. >> i want to say thank you. i've been on your show more than 100 times now and we've done women's rights, and we've done the beatles. that was fun. and we've done the 2008 campaign and the iraq war. and we've been in new hampshire and iowa. and every single time it's been great. chris: and we're going out. and maybe that chair to take with you. kelly o'donnell. >> i don't know how i'm going to live without being on your show in the future. we're going to miss that. on capitol hill, a fear among staffers about what happens when the health care law goes
into effect. because many of them may see an enormous jump in their own price for health care. and there's a concern there will be a brain drain and people will leave public service. chris: like a doubling? >> like a third of their salary. chris: would. -- wo. >> as a farewell gift to my friend the most obscure foreign policy thing i could think of. singapore has been nervous that china is circulating maps that have a dotted line describing boundaries.me very close to the coast of singapore. and other countries. and they just issued a new map. and it's not a dotted line anymore. it's a solid line. and nare really worried. -- and nare really worried. it means we're going to have to look very carefully at singapore maps. i'm sorry. chris: and the seventh fleet is going to protect those little countries? >> maybe. chris: and when we come back, the big question, will we see a
chris: welcome back. immigration reform is making real progress in congress. and our big question is this week will we get a real, enforceable immigration law? will this work? unlike the past efforts? >> will it work? is there going to be something passed? yes. whether it will work, i think it is because you know why? the reality is mexico's economy is coming back. chris: but will we still see those nbc pictures of people racing across the border at night? >> not -- not for a while. chris: not for a while. that means the law works. >> we will get the bill. but there are concerns that the number of visas for farmer workers is going to be revised down that we will see more once the economy picks up. >> i think they will get something through but it will be that unforeseen consequences problem that people will watch for the next several years. what will the impacts be that aren't part of what the discussion is?
>> we will get a bill. the balance mere is between a pathway to citizenship and border security. we'll probably get more emphasis on border security to get the bill passed. chris: why should a republican vote for this? >> jeb bush and haley barbour gave a reason this week. because it's pro growth. chris: ok. great. >> you need immigrants in america to foster growth. chris: thanks for a great roundtable. getting near the end here on this show. chuck todd. katty kay. kelly o'donnell and david ignatius. that's the show. thanks for watching and hope to see you back here next week. and we'll look at some of the great highlights of the last 11 years o look at 'em.
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>> hi everyone, welcome to "on the money" i'm maria bartiromo, volatility coming back to stocks, what everyone is watching interest rates and thousand keep your money -- and how to keep your money safe right now. i will talk to a former technology ceo who was himself a i am gran immigrant, why the government is all wrong. the secret motive behind google's billion dollar by, "on the money" begins right now. >> this is america's number one financial news program, "on the money," now, maria bartiromo. >> here is what is making